Public Linguistics and Impact


Dan McIntyre (University of Huddersfield) Babel: The Language Magazine

Lesley Jeffries (University of Huddersfield) – Language in Conflict

Hazel Price (University of Huddersfield) – Language Unlocked

Since the introduction of impact as a measure in the UK Research Excellence Framework, the impetus for linguists to demonstrate the real-world value of their research has increased considerably. There are, of course, considerable dangers in the attempt to demonstrate research impact. These include the potential for focusing on short-term goals as opposed to long-term research agendas, and the shaping of research to fit consultancy requirements.
However, linguistics is a discipline that does have clear applications, so it is interesting to consider the extent to which the issues raised above impact on such practically-focussed research. To this end, this session explores ways in which linguistics relates to real-world issues. We present three case studies of projects from the University of Huddersfield which demonstrate the relevance of linguistic theories, methods and findings to everyday life. We also aim to discuss how demonstrating impact is invariably bound up in the concept of being a public linguist, and we argue for a broader definition of impact as a result. The three presentations in this strand are as follows:

Language in Conflict
Lesley Jeffries

Language in Conflict is a project that has been ongoing at the University of Huddersfield since 2011. It takes theories and frameworks from linguistics, specifically critical stylistics and pragmatics, to reflect on the processes involved in mediation. Our research in these areas feeds into the workshops that we frequently run for professional mediators and the training materials we have developed for this purpose. Over the last few years, we have worked with such organisations as Common Ground and Mediation Northern Ireland. Our website ( provides linguistic resources for mediation professionals and aims to bridge the gap between linguistics and conflict resolution. This talk is specifically focused on applying linguistic theory.

Language Unlocked
Hazel Price

The second project, Language Unlocked, uses the methods of corpus linguistics and stylistics to enable end-users to reflect on the language used to represent them (e.g. in the press) and the language they use to represent themselves (e.g. in internal company documents). To date we have worked with a range of organisations, including Unions 21 (an umbrella group for UK trade unions), the UK Green Party and the BBC. In this talk we discuss some of the research we did for the Green Party into how they were presented in newspaper reports and in their own policy documents and manifesto, leading up to the 2015 General Election. We also explore the presentation of the Party in their policy documents used in their 2015 general election campaign, and ask whether there is any difference in their language use after the Language Unlocked consultancy, in order to assess whether our language awareness training had any impact on UKGP language practices, and whether there has been any discernible change in their style. This talk is specifically focused on applying linguistic theory.

Babel: The Language Magazine
Dan McIntyre

The third project, Babel: the Language Magazine, brings the findings of linguistic research to a non-specialist audience. Babel was established in 2012, and we have produced 19 issues to date. It is distributed worldwide to individuals, colleges and schools. The magazine aims to fill a gap in the market for popularising academic research. This presentation focuses on the extent to which it is possible to shape publication perceptions of linguistics through this venture. It also explores the fuzzy boundary between popularising academic research in linguistics and demonstrating the impact of academic research in linguistics. This talk is specifically focused on conveying linguistic findings.



Thursday 6th July, 3.30